One of the countless millions of family bonds severed by the chaos and horror of World War II has been made whole again after 71 years. Margot Bachmann's Italian mother was living in a forced-labor camp in Germany in 1944 when she was impregnated by a German soldier she had fallen in love with, the Washington Post reports. Nazi authorities took the baby away from her (perhaps as soon as a month after the child's birth) and placed the girl in a children's home. When the war ended, the woman, identified only as Gianna, returned to Italy, believing the child had been killed. She wasn't. The two were reunited last weekend by the International Tracing Service organization, which says in what is "close to a miracle" it was able to locate the 91-year-old mother in her home village in northern Italy.
Bachmann was raised by the soldier and his family, who told her that her birth mother was Italian but ordered her not to try to find out more and gave the impression that she was dead, the Telegraph reports. Bachmann's own daughters encouraged her to search after her father's death and they were able to track down her birth certificate. "All my life I asked my family about you, without being given any answers. I want to come and find you so that I can hug you once again," she wrote to her, per the Telegraph. A Red Cross spokeswoman tells the Post that when they finally met, "a bottle of sparkling wine, the excitement of the reunification, and an exchange of gifts and family pictures filled the time." (A Facebook photo reunited this mother and son after 15 years.)